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6 Ways To Raise Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

6 Ways To Raise Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

We all probably know people, at work or in our personal lives, who are great at listening and helping us feel more hopeful and optimistic. Like me, you probably know people who are masters at managing their emotions. You find yourself in awe, and wish you had the ability to control your emotions too. Your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings can determine your success and overall happiness in all aspects of your life. Raising your emotional intelligence has a direct and positive effect on your level of energy and consciousness.

Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how they affect the people around you. People who function at a high rate of emotional intelligence have the ability to adjust their behaviors and are more effective at recognizing and managing their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.  Ergo, emotional intelligence equals interpersonal effectiveness; the more effective you are with others, the more successful you’ll be.

The Six Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

If your desire is to raise your emotional intelligence, here are six pillars of emotional intelligence to incorporate into your life:

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  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Empathy
  3. Self-Regulation
  4. Motivation
  5. Social Skills
  6. Happiness

1. Self-Awareness

Serving as the core area of emotional intelligence, being able to identify how you feel throughout the day, as well as who you are, helps you make important life choices. One way to raise your emotional intelligence is to use present language to help focus more on the present moment. Put your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on paper. By doing this, you’re able to put things into perspective, which helps you become more aware of who you are, what you want and why. Learn to increase your emotional vocabulary by using it to describe your full range of emotions.

Knowing how to express your emotions can often help you manage them in a proper and healthy way. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the gift of silence and meditation. Reconnect with your inner self and watch your perspective and your life transform.

2. Empathy

Empathy is extremely powerful and essential to raising your emotional intelligence. Increasing your ability to empathize can help you get closer to others, gain their support when you need it, and potentially defuse high-charged conflicts in your professional and personal life. Empathy is recognized as the second-most important emotion to acquire, since by showing someone that you understand where they’re coming from, you’re able to gain their respect. Be aware and listen carefully to what they are telling you. You know you are becoming more empathetic when you’re able to decipher and recognize the feelings of others.

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3. Self-Regulation

All humans share the desire to have intimate relationships with a few trusted people. However, part of growing as a person involves acquiring new skills while experiencing new relationships. By learning to control and manage your emotions, especially your impulses, you are able to prepare yourself for emotional self-management.

People who self-regulate think before they act, have the ability to say no, and shift their thoughts to prevent their emotions from controlling them. They are self-aware enough to know their strengths, weaknesses, and are willing to look at themselves honestly. Emotionally intelligent people aim for assertiveness, appropriately sharing their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs with the right people at the right time as a means to let others know where they stand.

4. Motivation

Willing to defer immediate results to establish long-term success, emotionally intelligent people are generally characterized as motivated. People are often guided by their emotional knowledge, which results in a flawed impulsive decision. People who are emotionally intelligent, however, are excellent decision-makers, and they know when to trust their intuition.

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Susceptible to criticism, they take it well, and know when to use it to improve their performance. Emotionally intelligent people know when to stick and when to switch their emotional attachments. They are motivated to look at a problem and find a resolution in a calm and rational way. When it comes to their careers, motivation drives emotionally intelligent people to be more productive and passionate about succeeding.

5. Social Skills

Another way of raising your emotional intelligence is being able to easily talk and connect with others. Being socially responsible demonstrates that you really care about others and not just about your own personal gain. Individuals who focus on the development of others rather than their own, practice emotional intelligence as well as humility. Humility can be a wonderful quality to possess because it indicates to others that you’re able to take responsibility of your actions while still participating and being a team player. Having a high emotional intelligence gives you the social skills to manage the emotions of others too.

6. Happiness

Raising your emotional intelligence involves knowing when to be happy, sad, excited, anxious, or even vigilant. Unfortunately, very few people know how to manage their happiness as it is frequently associated with material goods or gifts they receive from others.

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Generally, people who possess high emotional intelligence are happy people. The really happy ones are those who always give. Happiness, for clarification, feels like a warm, steady glow harbored inside your body. Because happy people accomplish more tasks than those who are sad or depressed, it is important to note that the emotionally intelligent have the ability to control their mood to serve their purpose, motivating them to find more solutions to problems. Remember, it costs nothing to spread happiness, and what you receive in return is priceless.

In order to raise your emotional intelligence, it is essential that you try to incorporate these six pillars into your life. Not only will you no longer feel like a slave to your emotions, you’ll be able to create and maintain more meaningful and intimate relationships in your professional career and personal life.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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